affordable wardrobe staples

alright guys, getting ready for a long post!  but just know for as long as it takes you to scroll through, it took me days more to actually write it!  but i’ve been wanting to share these ideas with you all for so long, and i am so thankful to you for reading my blog, so that makes everything worth it!

affordable wardrobe staples

over my years of blogging, especially my What I Wore posts, my readers would ask me what closet staples suggestions i have.  after promising a post for so long and never delivering (sorry!), i finally have pulled it all together.  now this isn’t a completely comprehensive post, but more focussed on fall/winter basics and not including summery dresses, shorts or sandals.  maybe that will be another time.  or year…

as fun as new fashion trends are, having a good foundation of basics is so important.  when your closet is based on classic basics, getting dressed each day is just easier.  you can add a newer trend into your wardrobe without having to BUY ALL THE THINGS to go with said new trend.

so here we go, my list of classic closet staples:

white oxford

white oxford:  the white button down is the most classic of all the basics.  it looks great on everyone, whether you choose a looser boyfriend style or fitted.  it can be tucked in, front tucked, untucked or even tied in a knot at the waist.  get one.  wear it all the time.

american eagle solid button down shirt //  old navy classic oxford shirt //  target merona button down shirt

chambray shirts

chambray shirt:  i tend to prefer a more fitted chambray shirt, but i have been loving the new looser tunic style, too.  wear this shirt with contrasting denim, black skinnies, or white jeans.  wear chambray buttoned up or open with a tee underneath.  wear it tucked into a floral skirt.  i prefer to wear my chambray shirt with sleeves sloppily cuffed or open under a chunky cardigan with a v-neck tee.

american eagle denim western shirt //  american eagle boyfriend chambray shirt //  forever 21 contemporary chambray button down shirt

gingham shirt

gingham button down:  same great qualities as the white oxford, but kind of like it’s cuter cousin ;)  its great for the days you need a print.  p.s. this looks super cute with a leopard print belt or flats.

forever 21 gingham plaid shirt //  forever 21 buffalo plaid linen shirt //  target merona plaid popover favorite shirt

grey neck tee

grey v-neck tee:  i’ll be honest, i basically live in this tee.  i also keep black & white v-necks in steady rotation.  this neckline is flattering on everyone, unlike the crewneck (it has its place, but its not for everyone).  pair this with a baseball hat = perfect.  pair it with jeans and a chunky rhinestone necklace = date night!  wear it all day at home with leggings then sleep in it and wear it again the next day!  oh, thats just me, never mind… #badadvice

forever 21 heathered v-neck tee // old navy vintage style v-neck tee  //  target merona favorite v-tee

plaid flannel

plaid shirt:  i’d love to say the flannel shirt has always been a classic, but i think it got a bit of a bad rap during the 90’s grunge period.  but the plaid shirt game is strong and back for everyone, whether you’re wearing doc marten’s and heavy eyeliner or not.

forever 21 classic plaid flannel shirt //  american eagle boyfriend plaid button down shirt // target mossimo supply co. plaid button down shirt

cozy sweater

 cozy cable knit cardigan:  most winter days you can find me home in leggings, a loose tee, fuzzy slippers and a thick chunky cardigan.  basically a modern day housecoat, if you will.  these cozy sweaters pair great over any of the tops listed above, and are best with something fitted on the legs.  skip the boyfriend jeans with this one, unless you want to look too much like your boyfriend ;)

forever 21 cable knit cardigan //  old navy open-front cable-knit cardigan //  forever 21 shawl collar cardigan

grey sweater

grey sweater:  so here’s something i’ve decided as a woman in her 30’s with kids: fitted sweaters are overrated and are not my friend.  but each of these sweater options, while loose, can still look great and really put together.  again as with the cozy cable knit cardigan, pair these loose sweaters with something fitted on bottom, like skinny jeans and ankle boots.  i have the sweater on the left and its a favorite.

forever 21 ribbed cowl neck sweater //  american eagle v-neck pullover sweater //  forever 21 draped cross-front marled sweater

olive field jacket

 olive field jacket:  while the above options are all lightweight, the thicker parka versions (even with fur trimmed hoodies) are great, too.  these lightweight options are great for layering.  throw it over a t-shirt when theres a little chill to the air, or layer it over a sweater on the colder days.  its nod to the military lends this classic jacket a little edgy coolness.

american eagle light swing jacket (darn!  this one sold out, but here’s another great option) //  forever 21 hooded drawstring parka //  target twill field jacket

black dress

black dress: everyone needs at least one LBD.  these 3 options all vary greatly, and work for all different occasions.  i think the loose shift dress in the middle is the most versatile – it works for a cocktail party and a funeral.  i really believe a great fitting little black dress is worth investing in because it will prove to be so useful for years of occasions, parties, and celebrations.

forever 21 contemporary lace-paneled sheath dress //  h&m v-neck tunic //  h&m short dress

boyfriend cardigan

neutral boyfriend cardigan: i love a longer length in a cardigan, especially if you want to wear it with leggings (cover the buns, ladies!).  this works over an oxford with jeans, even over the little black dresses with boots.  this is great for the days when you don’t need a thick layer for extra warmth.

old navy boyfriend cardigan //  target mb cardigan  //  h&m long cardigan

graphic tee

graphic tee:  a good, simple graphic tee is so versatile! beyond just wearing with jeans & converse, add a rhinestone necklace!  or wear with a pencil skirt & heels.  layer a plaid flannel over it.  wear it with leopard print flats.   so many variations, so much fun!

forever 21 tokyo graphic tee //   forever 21 ramones baseball tee //  american eagle times square t-shirt

skinny jeans

skinny jeans:  ladies, get yourself a good pair of skinny jeans!  get a pair with a nice classic wash, not too dark or too light.  they go with everything!  i have several pairs of skinny jeans: cropped, distressed, dark wash… but my standard wash pair is my most worn and never goes out of style.

forever 21 mid-rise skinny jeans //  old navy original skinny jeans //  old navy mid-rise rockstar super skinny jeans

black skinny jeans

black skinny jeans:  dressed up or dressed down, these are a casual and modern alternative to black trousers.  on those days when i can’t decide what to wear, i always go to black skinnies with a chambray shirt and leopard print flats – comfy, casual, and stylish.

forever 21 basic skinny jeans //  american eagle aeo sateen x jegging // h&m super skinny low jeans

bootcut jeans

while skinny jeans are great with any pair of shoes, there’s no other cut of jeans that can flatter quite like a good fitting pair of bootcut or flare jeans.  to me, the key to a flattering cut is a good fit around the buns and thighs, and not tight still at the knees.  length is important too with these pants, but that all depends on the shoes you wear.  main tip:  the jeans need to at least touch the top of the shoe, and not quite touch the ground in the back – no floods!

boot cut/flare jeans – american eagle artist jeans //  american eagle denim x kick boot jean //  h&m bootcut low jeans

ankle boots

ankle boots:  like skinny jeans, i swore i’d never own a pair of ankle boots.  i hated how they looked, and they very rarely looked decent.  but over the years i am not only getting more comfortable with them, but am figuring out exactly how i like to wear them.  only with skinny jeans (i haven’t figured out how to style them with a skirt or dress yet), and a little bit of ankle needs to show.

forever 21 zippered ankle booties //  target sam & libby’s peyton booties //american eagle buckle stretch bootie

leopard flats

leopard flats:  when i wear leopard flats, skinny jeans, and a white oxford, a little part of me feels like audrey hepburn.  who doesn’t want that?  i love that leopard is both a classic print, but also still kind of sassy.

target betseyville epic studded ballet flats // target drew ballet flats //  american eagle d’Orsay ballet flats

black heels

black pumps 0r wedges:  ok, i hate wearing heels.  well, my feet hate them.  but, they totally kick up your style a notch or 2.  wearing a little black dress with heels is so much more flattering than flats.  jeans with heels – so fun!  so here’s my thoughts on the shoes above:  i own those wedges.   i love them!  and actually, they are pretty comfortable.  and those kitten heels, i really want them!  i’m still not quite grown up enough to not wobble in tall heels, but those kitten heels sure are super cute.  and anything with an ankle strap is flattering.  period.

target darcy pump //  h&m pumps with kitten heel //  old navy sueded d’Orsay pumps

tall boots

tall boots:  i really wanted to keep all the options on this list affordable, so i did.  but i have to be honest i don’t own a pair of inexpensive tall boots.  here’s the deal, i have disproportionately narrow calves for the size of my feet .  so every time i try on boots, i struggle to find a pair that actually fits my calves.  i love to use zappos for finding the perfect pair (i don’t have a ton of shopping options close by for boots) because they offer free shipping both ways.  so i ordered a bunch until i found just the right fit!

old navy tall boots //  target marlo riding boots //  forever 21 faux leather riding boots


white converse:  the best of the best of all white tennies.  i wear these things to death.  several times a week.  my favorite part:  i toss them in the wash with some bleach to brighten them back up, even for a short cycle in the dryer.  since i’ve been asked before, if my ankles are showing with these (in shorts or cuffed pants), i either go sockless or wear the little slip on socks that don’t show.  but since i wash the shoes once they get too dingy, they don’t really get stinky.

nordstrom chuck taylor low sneaker

so there it is!  slowly add these staples into your wardrobe all the time then the morning hustle to get dressed will be so much easier!  do these basics feel boring to you?  mix it up with accessories, like earrings, statement necklaces and scarves.

do you have any other items you’d add to the list?  please share!


  1. 1

    Well done on this great list. I think this is the perfect casual wardrobe staples list – as a stay at home mum this would work for me and although I have quite a few of the items there are a some I now need to shop for. A simple, no fuss, collection that can easily be added to and all obtainable at reasonable costs. Thank you

  2. 2

    Great post…glad and happy to say, I have almost everything on your list….

  3. 3

    What a great,practical and easy to customize list! Thank you! I love WIWW also! Read it and click on several links every week for great fashion ideas!

  4. 4

    the only think I’m missing is the white cons!! must get on that!!
    great list

  5. 5

    You hit it out of the ballpark!!! I love your style and suggestions!
    Oh, and I think you’re so pretty!
    Thank you so much!!

  6. 7

    I love the ankle boots and how they look on everyone but me. I have skinny ankles and boots tend to show too much of a gap. Any suggestions on an ankle boot that looks good on small ankles? Small calves here too!

    • 8

      ugh, same problem here. my only suggestion is to keep trying. i really do like websites that offer free shipping both ways so you can try several pairs, guilt free!

  7. 9

    You hit it outta the park! Such a great blog. I love your thoughts and explanation behind them all. After following you for a bit, I can say I’m pretty well set. Thank you, it has made wiw easier but I always look forward to seeing what you come up with. xo

  8. 10

    Great post, thank you so much! I have the narrow calf problem too and end up never being able to find tall boots that I am comfortable in.

  9. 11

    thanks for the awesome list, i love your “what i wore” posts. making a shopping list today!

  10. 12

    Thanks so much for these tips… love! You’ve always go really great jewelry. I’d love a post on affordable jewelry options too.

    Thanks so much! You’re a rockstar!!!

  11. 14

    Great post. I have so many thoughts on this! First of all, I check in WIWW every week because you wear realistic clothes… no ridiculous heels or extreme trends, and your sources are affordable.

    Second of all, you have really nailed proportion… I think that’s your secret! Jeans and a tee can look really pulled-together or it can look like you just don’t care. I think proportion is the key.

    For me, looking in the mirror at an outfit and seeing it objectively is really hard. It’s easy to pick out stuff from the rack or a catalog, but figuring out if it’s right for you is challenging! Anyway, your list of staples is a great start because they all do look effortlessly great.

    Please post more on fashion! :)


  12. 15

    Ahh! I love leopard print!!
    Abbie E.

  13. 16

    Will you please share the brand/make of the boots you found? I also have the narrow calves, bigger feet issue. I love a good deal but am ready to invest in a good pair of leather boots that will last for years! Would love to hear what worked for you!

    • 17

      my boots are by steve madden, called sonnya, but they aren’t made anymore. i just ordered a pair of boots from nordstrom that was supposed to be for narrow calves and they were super baggy. so frustrating!

  14. 18
  15. 19

    Hi, would you care if I share your post with my study group?

    There’s a lot of peeps that I think would like your content.
    Please let me know. Thanks.

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